Low Cost doesn’t mean Low Style

Get a fresh new look for your home with flooring that wont break the bank.

By Rob Duca

It’s no longer necessary to bust your budget to create a luxurious-looking floor in your home. Whether it’s the kitchen, bathroom, finished basement, family room or bedroom, innovations in carpeting, tile, ceramic and stone now provide consumers with multiple options that will give them a fashionable and elegant appearance without flattening their wallets.

Donna Morris, owner of RPM Carpets in East Harwich, recommends triexta carpets, which contains a fiber introduced to the market in recent years that is plush and durable. Marketed under the brand name Smart Strand Sorona, it mimics the qualities of more expensive wool and is available through all manufacturers. “This is soft and has a 10- to 20-year warranty,” Morris says. “Another huge advantage is that you can’t stain it with bleach, wine or mustard, which have always been three big stain problems. Just clean the carpet with warm water.”

RPM also recently began carrying the Healthy Home collection from Bliss, which eliminates and neutralizes pet and smoking odors. Because sodium bicarbonate is built into the material during the manufacturing process, the carpet reacts to odors as though baking soda is already present.

“These are luxurious-looking carpets,” Morris says. “People are putting them throughout the house.”

Limestone and marble floors featuring intricate designs and patterns can be pricy. But Lane Meehan, owner of Cape Cod Tile Works in Harwich, says there are still ways to impress your friends without breaking the bank. Meehan suggests “puddles” in the bathroom, which are small areas that provide a visual break from a standard tile floor. “You can have ceramic on the majority of the floor, and then put a little puddle in a corner or spilling out of the shower,” she says. “You’re putting your money just where the puddle is, so it’s not costing a lot, but it looks like it’s totally custom.”

Natural stone flooring is an economical option both inside and out. From Stonewood Products.

Natural stone flooring is an economical option both inside and out. From Stonewood Products.

The Seashore Design line carried by Cape Cod Tile Works features shells, turtles and crabs that can be displayed whimsically or in a subtle, sophisticated fashion. The floor in Meehan’s studio includes ceramic tile, but with three turtles placed as though they’re walking in from her garden. “Everybody looks at it and says, ‘Well, of course you bought high-end tile.’ But I didn’t,” she says.

Custom puddles might also feature a crab nestled in a corner, oysters, fish or a message-in-a-bottle design. “It’s one way of having a less expensive bath or mud room that looks high-end,” she says.

Playing with shapes and sizes is another method to spice up a room. A pin-wheel pattern on a kitchen floor can appear lavish simply by alternating sizes, using inexpensive 12×12 ceramic tiles for 80 percent of the floor, and mixing in custom-designed 4×4 tiles that might be etched or screen-printed. Another option would be strategically placing pieces of glass. “Glass can be expensive, but not if you’re only using it as 2×2 accents,” Meehan says.

“What’s being done with ceramics now as far as color and texture is amazing,” she says. “You can do a beautiful floor that looks like slate and limestone and people would be hard-pressed to tell the difference. The product has gotten really good, and there’s no maintenance to it at all.”

Stone flooring in baths, mud rooms, kitchens and three-season porches has become popular. Natural stone provides a consistent flow from room to room, with limestone a common choice for bathrooms and slate often being used in kitchens. “We have slates that have a light color, with sands, and blue and light-green undertones and are really pretty for Cape Cod,” Meehan says.

Alterna, a vinyl tile new to the market, replicates the look of natural stone for much less cost. Available in 16-inch sections, it comes in more than 30 style options, including classic retro black-and-white and Travertine. “It’s more flexible and forgiving than ceramic,” says Jennifer Quigley, manager and design consultant at Ideal Floor Covering, with offices in East Falmouth and Hyannis. “People can’t tell the difference.”

A line of nylon carpet and laminates has recently come to market. With more than 50 color options and an array of 20 styles, these carpets come in solids, patterns and berber and are half the price of wool. With a green line chemical called R2X built into the fiber, they feature a lifetime warranty against staining, and are resistant to fading from sunlight. “Everybody is on a budget, and these carpets fit in with high style at low cost,” Quigley says.

Jason Hogan of Stonewood Products in Harwich and Mashpee prefers Travertine tile for kitchens to create an old-world, rustic atmosphere. “We have a line of Cape sands that has a great look,” he says. “You can stagger the tiles for various patterns. The great thing about stone is its durability.”

Tile can also be used for decorative siding or as mosaics that match the color of the floor. But whatever your choice of flooring, modern technology has created an endless array of luxurious-looking choices to match your budget.

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